News Release

Cisco Networking Solutions Provide 21st-Century Learning Environment for K-12 Students

School Districts Deploy Cisco Switching and Wireless Technologies to Enhance Student Performance, Improve Safety and Reduce Operating Expenses
May 05, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif. - May 5, 2008 - Demonstrating its continued value and commitment to the K-12 education market, Cisco today showcased how school district customers are using their networks as platforms for enriching the learning environment, enhancing student performance, improving safety, and reducing operating expenses while preparing students for the future.

The school districts include Kent School District in the state of Washington, School District No. 23 in Kelowna, B.C., and the Brevard School District, in Viera, Fla. Each of these districts is committed to providing a top-notch educational experience, and in each case, the use of advanced Cisco® networking technologies such as switching, wireless and service solutions is playing an integral part in the district's success.

"Increasingly, K-12 schools are recognizing the value of using the network as a platform for innovative forms of education and communication. As new media-rich, bandwidth-intensive education, safety and administration applications are developed, schools are realizing they need infrastructures with the performance, reliability and flexibility these new tools require," said Marie Hattar, vice president of network systems and security marketing for Cisco. "Our goal for K-12 education customers is to equip them with the tools they need to support current applications and ready them to handle tomorrow's application advances, so they can enrich the learning experience of their students and better prepare them for the future."

Cisco switching, wireless and service solutions that are enhancing the learning environment in K-12 schools include:

  • Cisco Catalyst® Switches with Power over Ethernet (PoE). These help simplify wireless deployments and help enable unified communications deployments by providing an integrated solution that extends inline switch power to wireless access points and phones.
  • 10 Gigabit Ethernet. This helps enable schools to more easily deploy video solutions such as Cisco IPTV, which can be used to reach a geographically dispersed audience, and Video on Demand, which can provide convenient continuing education options for teachers.
  • Cisco Unified Wireless Networks. Wireless LAN controllers with lightweight wireless access points allow schools to efficiently deploy, secure and centrally manage a wireless network.
  • Cisco SMARTnet® Service. The operational health of a school's network is maintained through 24x7 direct access to Cisco expertise and resources that promote greater network availability and extend the value of IT investment.

Kent School District Takes Academic Networking to Next Level with Converged Solution

The Kent School District in the state of Washington has a long tradition of innovation. With 27,000 students at 40 schools and 3,200 employees, the district depends on its network to enrich its learning environment and help instructors and administrators work more effectively.

The district wanted to prepare its network for applications such as voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), IP video surveillance, wireless networking and virtualized applications. Although it had a high-speed wide-area network (WAN), limited bandwidth to the desktop hampered network performance. Kent needed a consistent, uniform network solution that improved availability and reliability.

The Kent School District upgraded its network with several Cisco products, including Cisco Catalyst switches, which provide the network performance, availability and flexibility required for media-rich applications. The upgrade also included Cisco Unified Communications, which delivers clear phone communication and messaging to all campus sites, and a Cisco Unified Wireless Network.

Knowing how important network performance would be to the ongoing success of this technology implementation, the Kent School District decided to purchase a Cisco SMARTnet Service contract. SMARTnet gives Kent around-the-clock access to a team of highly skilled Cisco engineers, online technical resources, operating system upgrades and advanced hardware replacement to help keep its network running optimally. "We have maintenance contracts with multiple vendors and Cisco is the most responsive of them all," said Thuan Nguyen, director of information technology at the Kent School District. "When we have a network issue, we count on the four-hour response time to have the problem resolved."

The new infrastructure includes more than 900 lightweight wireless Cisco access points managed by Cisco WLAN controllers, and several 10 Gigabit Ethernet connections to schools and within the district's data center. These technologies support advanced applications that enhance student learning, increase staff productivity, and improve public safety. In addition, the infrastructure supports a converged voice and data network that can be managed more efficiently and cost-effectively by the district's limited IT staff. Plus, the uniform network environment helps increase network availability.

During the upgrade, Power over Ethernet (PoE) was important for the new voice system, since the district's previous phones didn't require power outlets. To help reduce conversion costs, the district wanted a solution that would not require additional power or wiring. The Cisco Catalyst 3560 and 3750 Series Switches provide PoE support using both Cisco Inline Power and the IEEE 802.3a/f specification.

The Cisco Unified Wireless Network is also improving instruction at the school by providing total wireless coverage, which allows teachers and students to connect to the network from anywhere on campus, and to access the Internet, work on assignments, and submit homework from their laptops.

With its end-to-end Cisco network solution in place, the Kent School District is already planning to take advantage of a wider range of new K-12-focused applications. "We plan to implement streaming video into the classroom over the next year," Nguyen said. "Every classroom will have a video projector and an interactive electronic SMART Board when the initiative is complete. We are banking on the scalability of our Cisco network to support new applications."

Because the Cisco network was designed to easily support growth, the Kent School District can continue to build on its foundation and add new capabilities for students, instructors and staff.

School District Uses Cisco Technology to Improve the Way Teachers Teach and Students Learn

School District No. 23 encompasses 41 schools in and around the city of Kelowna, B.C., serving 21,000 students. The district has a reputation for outstanding quality, but its leaders want to further improve student literacy and writing skills, enhance the educational resources available to students, and find ways to make students more engaged in their work. They also wanted to create more opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing in the classroom.

To accomplish these goals, district leaders launched the "Together iLearn" program, one of the largest and most mature one-to-one laptop implementations in North America. The technology project aims to equip all students in grades 7 through 12 with their own laptop computers, which they can use both inside and outside of the classroom. To support this goal, the district put in place an advanced Cisco wireless and networking infrastructure and a state-of-the-art digital learning curriculum. More than 4,000 laptops have been distributed to date, and the district plans to dispense an additional 4,000 over the next few years.

To support this progressive and impressive initiative, School District No. 23 deployed a comprehensive Cisco infrastructure, including Cisco Integrated Services Routers, Cisco Catalyst switches, a Cisco Unified Wireless Network, and Cisco SMARTnet Service.

Deploying these Cisco solutions gives School District No. 23 a comprehensive, easy-to-implement, easy-to-maintain network that provides wireless access and consistent management across all schools. For the students participating in School District No. 23's iLearn program, the technology has profoundly changed their educational experience, providing access to resources, collaboration tools and modes of learning that would be inconceivable in a traditional classroom.

"In just the first few years of the program, there are marked improvements in writing, literacy and other skills," said Jon Rever, director of technology and education services for School District No. 23. "With digital tools and a wireless network at their disposal, students can collaborate, communicate and share ideas in ways that would be impossible in a conventional classroom. Perhaps even more important, the students are more engaged and enthusiastic about their school work than ever before."

Brevard School District Takes Advantage of Cisco Infrastructure for Award-Winning Results

The Brevard School District, in Viera, Fla., manages 85 schools that enroll more than 75,000 students. The 46th-largest school district in the United States, Brevard employs more than 9,600 staff and has nearly 25,000 computers spread across 103 sites.

Faced with a multivendor infrastructure that was difficult to manage, costly to maintain and unable to provide the performance required by today's advanced K-12 applications, Brevard elected to do a complete refresh of its network with an end-to-end converged solution from Cisco. Delivering increased bandwidth to each school, the new infrastructure has allowed the district to implement leading-edge educational applications such as an online grade-book program that allows parents and students to access test scores as soon as they are calculated. The district has also implemented a 21st-Century classroom design that improves the ways students see, hear and interact with the curriculum. The design includes ceiling-mounted projectors, amplification systems, document cameras, DVD players and wireless access points to allow for instructional flexibility.

Using the Cisco Unified Wireless Network, the district deployed Cisco WLAN controllers and more than 1,000 lightweight wireless Cisco access points in the last year to support PDAs, point-of-sale applications in the cafeterias, wireless projectors and wireless phones for administrators. This solution is allowing the district to centralize the control and management of its wireless access points, increasing the efficiency and security of its wireless network.

"The Cisco network is letting our teachers utilize exciting new educational tools that are really engaging the students," said Bob Burns, network operations manager for the Brevard School District. "Since the network was deployed, the students are more excited and more responsive to their lessons, and they are more involved in their education."

Brevard's advanced network was a key factor in the district's recent receipt of the Florida Governor's Sterling Award. Based on the National Malcolm Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence, the Sterling Award is Florida's highest honor for organizational performance and management excellence.

The improvements in network performance and applications support that the school has realized with its Cisco network have been so dramatic that it plans to continue enhancing its learning environment with video and high-bandwidth content.

"When we deployed the new infrastructure, we wanted a solution with outstanding performance, reliability, and support, one that would allow us to easily implement the new educational tools that will be developed in the coming years," Burns said. "We are confident that the Cisco network we've deployed will allow our teachers to continue utilizing educational tool advancements that will bring added value to the classroom and to the students themselves for years to come."